W.Va Public Works Council Receives Public Utility Assessments and Approves Agreement with FedEx | News, Sports, Jobs


Members of the Public Works Council discuss interim tax assessments for state utilities at a meeting Wednesday in Charleston – Steven Allen Adams

CHARLESTON – The West Virginia Public Works Council headed by Governor Jim Justice on Wednesday began the process of finalizing property tax assessments for various utilities for the 2022 tax year and approved a deal with FedEx after that there was an error in the company’s income tax return.

The Public Works Council met Wednesday morning in the governor’s office and boardroom of the State Capitol Building in Charleston. The board of directors was joined by state tax commissioner Matthew Irby and other members of the tax department.

The Public Works Council consists of Justice, Secretary of State Mac Warner, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt, State Auditor JB McCuskey, State Treasurer Riley Moore and of State Superintendent of Schools Clayton Burch.

One of the main roles of the board is to determine the value of public utility property for tax assessments. Although most real and personal property is appraised locally by county appraisers, utilities are unique in that their ownership spans many counties. Rather than having each of the 55 appraisers determine the value, the property is appraised and appraised by the state.

The owner or operator of each utility is required to file a report with the state tax commissioner no later than May 1 detailing the utility property for the previous calendar year in detail, in accordance with the law. . The tax commissioner reviews the reports, obtains any additional information needed, draws up the provisional valuation for each utility and sends a copy to the owner or operator of the utility.

The tax commissioner must deliver the provisional assessments to the Public Works Council by September 15, and the council then orders the assessments at a meeting to be held no later than October 1.

Types of utilities include airlines, private bridge owners, bus companies, electricity providers, natural gas providers, non-cellular communications (paging services), railways, and cars line, pipelines, cell phone companies, private sewer services, landline services, underground gas storage, water and water / sewer services.

The total of provisional assessments for the 2022 tax year stands at over $ 12.9 billion, an increase of 3.7% from the $ 12.4 billion of total assessments of the tax year 2021. Private sewer services saw their valuation increase by 40%, from $ 696,170 in tax year 2021 to $ 974,717 in tax. 2022. Airlines saw their valuations drop 53.5%, from $ 13.7 million in tax year 2021 to $ 6.4 million in tax year 2022. Airlines airlines include commercial air carriers as well as freight and commuter airlines.

“As far as the airlines are concerned, (are FedEx and these guys moving assets out of state and moving them elsewhere?) Why the steep drop? “ Moore asked.

“The valuation is based on July 1”, Irby responded. “I couldn’t tell whether or not companies are moving goods in and out of state in order to avoid this valuation date. I think other states have indicated that they notice activity around the valuation date to avoid taxation. “

Once the appraisals have been accepted, the Régie des travaux publics notifies the utility companies of their right to challenge the appraisal before the Régie, either in writing or at a hearing, or both.

Board members heard such a call on Wednesday from FedEx, which filed a request for redress for a flawed valuation. Branden Harbaugh, senior tax analyst for FedEx, participated in the meeting by conference call. Harbaugh explained that the $ 8.1 million valuation FedEx received for tax year 2021 was too high due to a clerical error by FedEx entering incorrect information in its return of income.

“We were measured on the basis of the original cost of the assets, not the book value, which we reported for both columns” said Harbaugh. “We would just like to be valued in the same way that we have done for all previous years, which is the book value and not the original cost. There has been a significant increase. I would say that’s almost a 150% increase from the book in total. “

“It sounds like a clerical error on their part. It is not a clerical error on our part ”, said Irby. “We took our word for it that the value of their assets matched what they stated in the statement. There was nothing in particular we had other than their word for it.

“Has someone new filled out the form filled out by (FedEx) for 50 years?” “ McCuskey asked.

“Yes in fact. This particular return was the first time that I was personally responsible for it”, Harbaugh responded.

Due to the clerical error, FedEx’s tax liability as of the 2021 tax year valuation was $ 186,896 instead of the $ 75,000 tax liability that FedEx got. expected to pay.

After entering into an executive session to discuss the legal issues of the claim, the board proposed to give FedEx a credit of $ 111,896 over one year instead of repaying that amount. Justice said writing a check for that amount would likely hurt county school systems that have already budgeted for tax revenue for the 2021 tax year.

“The counties have already established their budgets and have already made their expenditures based on the dollars that we have anticipated coming in or have arrived” says justice. “The fairest thing the board is going to come up with and decide … is that we’re probably going to take the reduction … but we’re going to do it on a credit level where we don’t just write a check and withdraw money. dollars from counties where they have already spent dollars.

“Yeah, I think it’s perfectly fine,” said Bo White, senior legal counsel for FedEx. “I think it would work for our team. “

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